Report No. 183
Regarding the issue (B):
Whether recommendations made in the 60th Report of the Commission need any revision or whether they have lost relevance now.
In the letter of reference, we have extracted a passage regarding impact of information technology. Merely because the Indian Evidence Act has been amended by the Information Technology Act, 2000 keeping in view the advancement of information technology, that should not lead to amendment of the General Clauses Act, 1897 because the terms expressed in the amended General Clauses Act will have an all pervasive impact on the "post-amendment General Clauses Act", Central enactments only.
It may suffice to mention that the proposed recommendations made in the 60th Report for making amendments in the General Clauses Act, 1897 will be applicable only to new Central statutes enacted after coming into force of the proposed amending Act and hence there is no possibility of impact of any proposed amending provisions on the existing Central statutes.
The General Clauses Act, 1897 is a consolidation of the General Clauses Act, 1868 and the General Clauses Act, 1887. The main object of these Acts as mentioned in the respective preambles of 1868 and 1887 Acts is to shorten the language used in the Central Acts as applicable in India. Hon'ble Mr. M.D. Chalmers, the then Law Member in the Council of Governor General, while introducing the Bill for 1897 Act, pointed in the Council that the new Bill was not intended in any way to change the existing law. He further stated that its object was simply to shorten the language of future statutory enactments. (see The Gazette of India, Part VI pp 35-6 dated Feb., 6, 1897).
Section 3 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 is the definition section. There are sixty six clauses in the said section which give meaning of words and phrases used in different statutes. The meaning of the words given in these definition clauses are applicable to this Act of 1897 and all Central Acts and Regulations made after the commencement of this Act, unless those Acts or Regulation contain separate definitions of their own or there is something repugnant in the subject or context. The opening words of section 3 is as follows:-
"3.Definitions - In this Act, and in all Central Acts and Regulations made after the commencement of this Act, unless there is anything repugnant, in the subject or context,."
The words, "all Central Acts or Regulation made after the commencement of this Act", indicate that definitions provided in this section would be applicable only to those Acts or Regulations which were made after 1897. So far as the Acts or Regulations made before 1897, section 3 would not apply. Therefore, it was held in State of Orissa v. Gangadhar Subudhi ILR 1966 Cutt 102 that as the Provincial Small Causes Courts Act was passed in 1887, hence, definition provided in section 3 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 does not apply to that Act.
Similarly, Andhra Pradesh High Court in Fatima Fauzia v. Syed-ul-Mulk, AIR 1979 AP 229 has held that as Trust Act was passed in 1882, the definition of 'good faith' given in the General Clauses Act, 1897 is not attracted to the Trust Act. On the same ground, Allahabad High Court in Lachmi Prasad v. Lachmi Narain AIR 1928 All.41, also held that definition of 'good faith' given in the General Clauses Act, 1897 does not apply to the Transfer of Property Act, 1882.
The General Clauses Act, 1897 also contains provisions regarding construction of Acts, Regulation, rules and bye-laws. But these provisions are applicable only to those Acts, Regulations, etc., which have been made after the commencement of the General Clauses Act, 1897. So far as the Acts, Regulations etc. made before 1897, are concerned rules of construction specified in sections 5 to 13 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 would not apply to those enactments.